But there will be a longer version.
The resolution of contradiction, or the apparent conciliation of dissonant epistemologies, that we know as magical realism has been celebrated, especially in the English-speaking world, as a decolonizing strategy that affirms realities beyond Western knowledge. In the Hispanic world and among Hispanists, on the other hand, it is criticized an exoticizing mode that fetishizes difference. The history of the term is curious: it was created by the German art critic Franz Roh in a 1925 discussion of post-expressionism, and the Italian literary critic Massimo Bontempelli applied it to modernist fiction the following year as a Fascist literary strategy. In the 1940s, Spanish American writers reworked it. Their context was the context the mundonovista (“New-Worldist”) desire to create a uniquely American mode of expression, in dialogue not just with realism (we were already post-realist by then) but with European artistic and intellectual currents including Surrealism, Existentialism and Socialist Realism. It became wildly popular during the Latin American literary “Boom” of the 1960s and 70s, whose authors examined local and continental histories but were at the same time writing for international markets. Latin American literature has since moved in other directions, but magical realism has had a strong afterlife world-wide. It is not exclusively Latin American, and it is hardly the only Latin American literary mode. Yet for Anglophone readers, it defines our literary field.